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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 March, 2003, 08:31 GMT
'Sexy' children's underwear withdrawn
BHS described the children's underwear as "harmless fun"
A department store chain has withdrawn "sexy" underwear aimed at girls as young as seven after complaints from parents.

British Home Stores (BHS) was criticised for selling a range of Little Miss Naughty underwear, based on the cartoon favourite.

The padded bras and briefs were described as "disgraceful" and "ill-advised" by charities Childline and Kidscape.

BHS has now withdrawn the branded pants from sale, but has kept the bras in its stores because it says they are aimed at older girls.

The row started after Linda Foster, of Gateshead, spotted the bras in the store's branch in Northumberland Street, Newcastle.

We would urge manufacturers and retailers to think carefully about the messages their clothing sends out
William Kidd, Childline

She said: "I think targeting them at girls as young as seven is disgraceful, it gives out completely the wrong message to parents, children and the people who abuse them.

"It is selling sex to kids. Girls shouldn't be thinking about lingerie at their age or wanting to enhance their cleavage. They should be playing with their friends not trying to look sexy."

A spokesman for BHS described the underwear range as "harmless fun".

But he said the company had reconsidered its position on selling the branded briefs and had decided to withdraw them from sale.

The bras come in a variety of colours and are priced at about 8.

They were sold to match briefs which start at age seven to eight.

'Welfare of the child'

Michelle Elliott, director of Kidscape, said: "You have to wonder why a girl of under 10 would have need for a padded bra and it is silly for a High Street company like BHS to be selling products like this.

"If these bras are being marketed at children under 10 then they really need to have their heads examined."

William Kidd of the charity Childline said: "We believe anyone selling or marketing lines to children and young people has a responsibility to bear in mind the welfare and best interests of the child.

"Childline would urge manufacturers and retailers to think carefully about the messages their clothing sends out and about the child which will be wearing them."

The BHS spokesman added: "We take our responsibility to supply appropriate clothing to children very seriously.

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